Repeat COVID-19 infections could lead to severe health consequences, including organ failure and even death.
A new study from Washington University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care system found that people who were infected with the virus numerous times were twice as likely to die and three times more likely to be hospitalized than those who only had it once.
Published in Nature Medicine, the team also found that patients with repeat bouts were three and a half times more likely to develop lung issues, three times more likely to develop heart conditions and 1.6 times more likely to deal with brain conditions.
“During the past few months, there’s been an air of invincibility among people who have had COVID-19 or their vaccinations and boosters, and especially among people who have had an infection and also received vaccines; some people started referring to these individuals as having a sort of superimmunity to the virus,” said senior author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly.
He continued: “Without ambiguity, our research showed that getting an infection a second, third or fourth time contributes to additional health risks in the acute phase, meaning the first 30 days after infection, and in the months beyond, meaning the long COVID phase.”
The study analyzed 5.8 million medical records with patients of all races, ages and sexes. They included people who had never been infected, those who had it once and patients who had repeat infections.85
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The latter group had people with two or three infections though a smaller number had more than four. The study accounted for both Delta and Omicron variants.
“This means that even if you’ve had two COVID-19 infections, it’s better to avoid a third. And if you’ve had three infections, it’s best to avoid the fourth,” said Al-Aly, who recommended getting additional COVID vaccine boosters, masking and staying home when ill.
This study comes on the heels of the World Health Organization announcing Wednesday that COVID-19 related deaths dropped 90% globally this week compared to the steep toll recorded in February.
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